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Better Way to Verify 5-Axis Machining— PowerMill add-on

PowerMill add-on

“Had we ordered the stock 25mm longer, we would have been in a position where the tool holder we decided on wouldn’t have got over the top of the part.”— Chris Northall, Delcam

Delcam’s PowerMill is a favorite when it comes to 5 axis CAM software, and after taking a look at Delcam’s Advanced add-on simulation software, I think this is the answer to CNC programmer and shop owner’s sleepless nights.

See, a CNC programmer has no fear making a few axis moves. However, it can become scary when you are responsible for assuring the 5-Axis are moving together, and it does not create a collision between machine, fixture/work-holding, material, tool holder, and tool.

Delcam 2

Most impressive might be the Dynamic machine control. You can drag and move the spindle away from collision area, and create better tool approach within the simulation. Because the simulation tool is driven together with Post processor, your code will update automatically.

The satisfaction of this simulation add-on might start with the creation of a quick crash report. You are wrong if you think people can pay attention to a simulation run-through that lasts longer than a few minutes. Not only is it time-consuming, but you can also easily miss that critical collision. Let software do some work for you. Now you can, within seconds, zoom in on details that need your attention. No more time wasted sitting with your nose to the screen through endless toolpath verification.

You can include the entire machine in your verification landscape. Travel limits are a pain when doing complex 5 axis machining— you have enough on your plate concentrating on the part itself. If surpassing the limits, the software will let you move the part on the table and, with a press of a button, update toolpath and code.

How about “Near Collision”? Yes, a collision is the ultimate price to pay, but if you are programming 5 axis you should have a safety factor in there. Anyone who has ever programmed a multi-axis machine will tell you that something like 10mm clearance is a good thing. So here the software will notify you about tight work spaces. The concern is not only when the cutter is engaged with the material but also if you clear your stock when changing tools.

Delcam 1

You don’t want surprises when running a 5 axis machine. It does happen; you get some funky axis moves, for example, when machining from positive to negative draft using a swarf cut. One could rely on years of experience, but for most, realization happens at the machine. Delcam has solved this by including an analysis graph that will show Axis rapids, giving you the option to assure that all axis are working incremental along each other.

Rumor has it that the Delcam people have been struggling to get the right name for their powerful simulation add-on. “VeriCL” does sound more marketable than “Advanced Simulation and Verification Software” but who cares about the name? The fact is that this tool will let you catch mistakes before you hit that green cycle start button on your machine.

Is CAD in the cloud helpful or painful?

Fusion 360 Simulation
Is new software technology helpful or painful? What does Windows 10 do that Windows XP didn’t? Any notable differences with your email? Back in the day you might have had a custom “Biiing…” for new messages; today I only check email twice daily. — Email overload — that has changed, the tool in itself, not so much.

CAD software is just another tool. Today’s CAD Developers need to look beyond the latest technology and more at how people are using it. It is not about how many new functions you can fit in there. We do not have time for the latest technology if it is not helping. More can be painful.

CAD in the cloud: is it painful or helpful? If CAD is just another tool we are using to get to the final result, there should only be one question; does it really fit?

An example: My father-in-law recently consulted me as he was looking to buy a new computer. He was debating: laptop or desktop? What would be your recommendation? He told me that he had no interest sitting anywhere else than at his desk — get a desktop —because it fits.

Should your design software be in the cloud? Where are you going to use it, where does it fit? There are benefits to the cloud, but nothing is new. We store data on the cloud and share it with others (Dropbox-style). The cloud is also really good for communication; think emails, instant messages and Facebook.

Autodesk’s Fusion 360 is flexible. It will run locally, and connected to the cloud; making it possible for you to get your work done anywhere. You do not want to tell your boss that a project is late because your Wi-Fi connection went down. Another problem I have had is being at a customer’s location; you cannot control their Wi-Fi and firewall nightmares.

Yes, connection to the cloud does have advantages. Fusion connects with A360. This is a cozy cloud corner, where you can store your data and quickly share, collaborate and connect with your customers and team members.

So why do I think Autodesk’s Fusion 360 is a helpful design and manufacturing package? It starts with the basis of being one solution that can do many things. Up until now, design and manufacturing users have had to jump between too many tools to get the job done. Too many tools, too many vendors, too much confusion…Painful.

Fusion is $300 a year, less than most monthly car payments. Running on your Windows or Mac. Letting you store data and collaborate on the cloud. It uses the latest in CAD. It includes Simulation tools to get you instant design feedback. And, full 3D CAM that will let you generate the NC code to make your finished product.

Autodesk’s Fusion 360 is not a result of developers playing with technology. It is a tool created to be helpful getting design and manufacturing to a finished product — It is the future of making things —It fits.

How to Tell if Nastran Simulation is For You

Does it make sense to stuff more power into your existing CAD tool? Most people will answer yes if it will make their design life easier.
Autodesk Nastran
Take Autodesk’s Nastran Simulation software that runs inside Inventor and SolidWorks. You get the most trusted industry simulation brain right inside two of the most powerful CAD packages. If your designs live outside a box of bubble wrap, Nastran can save you from re-designs caused by product failure in the field. You can, with a few mouse clicks, get a picture of how your designs react to things like temperature, loads, twisting and everyday usage. It’s much better than the old trick of over-designing: beef up material, and then take a hit on cost and weight.

The fear most people have is learning a new piece of software. I have to admit that I was a little scared when asked to learn simulation. You are not going to find any Ph.Ds in my family tree. Lucky for me and other former C-grade students, the simulation software is in many ways easier than CAD software you are using today. You are really just following the same dance steps every time. Pick material, how everything is being assembled, and where the forces are applied.
Check out this great video where my friend, Jim Byrne, gives an excellent example of the power of Nastran In-CAD.

Link